After hearing the nickname a local police department bestowed on their beloved K9, a social justice activist became bothered by the moniker. In fact, he felt it was hurtful to a select group of people. So much so, he decided to bring the issue to the police chief’s attention. The department has since responded.
Police Chief Mike Krantz with the Bend Police Department in Oregon received an email from a concerned social justice activist who was bothered by the nickname Krantz’s department had bestowed on their beloved K9 officer. The Belgian Malinois shepherd named Kim was of a smaller size, according to the police chief, which resulted in the nickname “Lil’ Kim” due to the animal’s petite stature.
Of course, Lil’ Kim is also the stage name of a famous black rapper. Although the department never intended to use the name of a famous black musician for its police dog, the K9 was often referred to by her nickname in official department statements over the years, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. This didn’t sit well with local social justice activist Riccardo Waites.
According to Waites, the founder of the Central Oregon Black Leaders Assembly (COBLA) — a nonprofit with a goal of building trust between Black community members and law enforcement, having the same nickname as Kimberly Jones, a Grammy-award-winning hip-hop musician, is not okay. In fact, Waites claimed the dog’s nickname was “hurting people in the community” and decided to take up the issue with Police Chief Mike Krantz, emailing the department to express his concerns.
Waites said that regardless of the intention, the original name was insensitive. In the email to Krantz, he explained why he felt the K9 officer’s nickname was unacceptable. “While it may appear a small or inconsequential matter to some, it is not to those of us who remember how police dogs were used against peacefully protesting civil rights workers and People of Color in the 1960s and are still used as a means of crowd control and intimidation today,” Waites said.
“It’s a little tiny black dog, K9 dog, that the police call ‘Lil’ Kim.’ If you’re a person of color, or if you’re a fan of Lil’ Kim, you know her significance in Hip Hop. You also know that she’s a gangster rapper,” Waites furthered in a video he posted to social media. “Just to be honest, I don’t want to see Lil’ Kim out there biting people of color.”
Following the complaints from the local black rights activist, the police department responded with Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz denying that the dog, who has been with the police department for years, was nicknamed after the famous rapper. Even so, after meeting with the local activist, Krantz agreed that moving forward, the K9 would only be called by her actual name — Kim.
Krantz explained that changing what name the department calls the police K9 officer was a good-faith decision to avoid offending some members of the community, according to The Blaze. “Although the dog is not named after a musician, it’s important to recognize that some people may assume that or believe that,” Krantz said. “I think in the eyes of some community members there is a connection historically to the use of dogs, specifically on protestors and black community members, and that could bring a fear of canines.”
Following his meeting with Chief Krantz, Waites wrote on Facebook that he is “appreciative of the department for stepping up and listening to [the] community.” Waites also sent a statement to media outlets praising the police chief for agreeing to change the dog’s name, calling it “a small but critical gesture of good faith.”
Saying that Kim deserves to be highlighted for the “good work” she does as a K9 officer, Waites also went on Facebook to express that he was “really happy” to no longer have the dog referred to as “Lil’ Kim.” He also talked about the “coalition of caring” his activism was trying to establish with law enforcement throughout his state and how his meeting with the police chief affected those efforts. He called the removal of “Lil'” from the dog’s moniker a “small win” and a “small step” towards the Bend Police Department working with the community.
“I would like to thank Chief Krantz for that small step in working with us,” Waites said, referring to the removal of “Lil'” from the dog’s nickname. “That shows you’re willing to listen to the community,” he continued, acknowledging that “it probably wasn’t a big deal” to police officers. “But, it was for a lot of us in the community,” he continued. “It probably took a lot for him to listen and try to see it from a person of color’s point of view. So, props to him … Hopefully, this relationship can continue and blossom and grow, and we can learn from each other.”